Friday, November 26, 2010


The Itallian press is demonstrating its calm, steady, measured approach to covering Ferrari's escapades in the Formula One series:

Ferrari 'heads will roll' after title loss
"Some things will change and, sure, some heads will roll," said the authoritative Italian daily La Gazzetta dello Sport.
...yeah, not so much.

I don't think that there is any way for Ferrari to view 2010 as anything other than a run-away success. The fact that Alonso was still leading the championship going into the final event beggars comprehension considering how fragile the Ferrari engine was through the rest of the season.

The rest of the team organization, though, fired on all cylinders when it counted. The principle example of this was Monaco, where Alonso wrote off a car on Friday, and the replacement turned a wheel for the first time on the shake-down lap Sunday afternoon, and the car ran flawlessly for the entire race distance -- that's a Ferrari accomplishment to be truly proud of.

For all my dislike of Alonso as a person, I think he is one of the best drivers on the grid today. Performances like Singapore, where he held off Vettel's visibly faster car for the whole event, stand up well beside events where the Ferrari cars had the edge on the rest of the field.

To suggest that Ferrari faltered at the end is too easy a Monday-morning quarterback call to make. Alonso had a devil's choice: stay with Vettel and risk Webber passing him before the pit stops; or cover Webber's stop and hope Vettel had to follow suit immediately.

I thought it a strange choice to cover Webber. At the very least I would have left Alonso out another lap to look at Webber's sector times after he got the new tires going; waiting that long would have cast doubt on the viability of the strategy.

But Ferrari made their choice.

Massa I think was a study in disappointment through this year. From visibly holding his team mate up in the early races, to suffering mysterious failures here and there, Massa's engagement seemed to be reduced by what happened in Germany. I still think Massa is a capable driver, one fast enough to help Alonso achieve a Manufacturer's title for Ferrari, but head-to-head Alonso is going to be the faster man more days than he's not. If Massa can accept that his days as a title contender have passed, he can still enjoy the success that a Ferrari can bring him. However I suspect Massa is too much the competitor to let that aspect of racing go, and he will continue to be less engaged in 2011, to both his and Ferrari's detriment.

For the team overall, this has been a huge year. This was supposed to be a building year, getting the personnel and experience together for a proper run at the titles in 2011. While Ferrari's presence near the front owes much to the mistakes made by the other teams and drivers, Alonso and Ferrari were good enough and consistent enough to take advantage.

To expect 2011 to be an improvement is extremely optimistic.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sebastien Vettel, World Champion 2010

So after all is said and done, Vettel finds himself holding the Driver's World Championship for 2010.

2010 has been a weird year in this respect, in that there hasn't been a single worthy driver who's claim on the title has been irrefutable throughout the whole season. Not that I'm claiming that Vettel, or his competitors, were un-worthy. But the fact of the matter is that everyone seemed to depend on other everyone else making mistakes or having bad luck.

And mistakes in the end is what sealed the deal for Vettel. True, Vettel won from the front going away, but had Alonso not pitted to cover Webber's gamble, he likely would have finished far enough up that the title would have been in the Ferrari driver's hands instead. Ferrari's mis-step was Vettel's gain.

Vettel's talent still seems a bit wild at times, but he should settle down; assuming he doesn't crater his own career with foolish team choices, this probably won't be his only World Championship. Now that he is a legitimate title winner, he should find this goes a long way towards having a team built around him rather than him being built into a team.